A Birthday of a Different Sort

This past Saturday, almost one year to the day of our official launch, we celebrated the first birthday of Kate’s Cause, our foundation built from love and heartache. We gathered with 254 of our closest friends, family and new faces alike and we celebrated our birthday. We celebrated Kate.

BECAUSE OF YOU, IN ONE YEAR, WE WERE ABLE TO FULFILL OUR PROMISE TO KATE.

Because I am at a loss for words, a rarity for me, I thought I would share my speech and our news with you here, since it expresses what I so wish to say.

Hi everyone! Welcome! We see a lot of friends and supporters in the audience today as well as a lot of new faces which is so humbling. I want to thank you for coming out today and giving us a chance to share what Kate’s Cause is all about.

2.5 years ago, we made a promise to our little girl. I held her hand as we promised that we would tell her story. We promised that we would do anything in our power to make noise and raise awareness. That her departure from this life would never have been in vain. We WOULD make a difference. At the time, we had no idea what that would mean or how it would unfold. OR, how big it would become.

One year ago (almost to the day) I stood right here in this very spot and made a promise to YOU. To Kate’s Cause supporters and donors. We officially launched her cause and our plan for what was known at the time as  “Katie’s Grant.” To fund a pediatric cancer researcher with bright and promising prospects that met our greatest need of better and less toxic treatments for our kids.

Today, I stand before you and tell you that in just one year, because of YOU, we are able to keep our word to Kate. YOU HELPED US KEEP OUR PROMISE TO OUR GIRL!

It is with the greatest excitement that I announce, on behalf of the Board of Kate’s Cause, our partnership with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to co-fund a grant to Dr. Christian Hurtz, PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Our $25,000 contribution to the grant  on studying Cellular Pathways to Enhance Treatment in Ph-like acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

A bit from Dr. Hurtz’s lay summary: B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) is the most common cancer in children (Kate had this cancer.) Despite significant improvements in chemotherapy combinations, approximately 20% of children with high-risk B-ALL will fail their treatments. It is now clear that there are different subtypes of ALL with different genetic mutations. These mutations activate and disrupt pathways within the leukemia cells that allows the cells to grow out of control. Our laboratory is specifically interested in the Philadelphia chromosome like (Ph-like) ALL subtype, which is associated with a high risk of relapse and poor overall survival. Based on our preliminary data, we predict that Ph-like ALL cells are driven by three separate pathways that can be inhibited by targeted drugs. Many of these drugs are already approved by the FDA for treatment of other diseases and have known safe doses in children. The goal of our study is to characterize the components of these cellular pathways and identify new treatment strategies that attack multiple pathways at the same time, which may result in better leukemia cell killing and prevention of chemotherapy resistance. We predict that this approach will be far more effective than the currently used chemotherapy regimens alone and ultimately can improve cure rates for children with Ph-like ALL.

The grant we are funding is trying to better define these pathways and find new drugs to target these abnormal pathways in order to better treat this group of leukemias with more targeted agents.

The hope is that with therapies that are targeted to the specific cancer cell type, we will obtain better outcomes with fewer toxicities.

So what happens next? What happens now?

Well….this month we will kick off a “Swabie Selfie” campaign to encourage as many new registrants on the Be The Match Registry as possible. Stay tuned for more details….we ask you to consider registering if you haven’t already….save a life in honor of her life.

Kate’s 7th birthday is on Tuesday. We’ll deliver over 600 toys to the clinic and hospital that day in her memory.

In September, our voices will be heard once more at CureFest. On September 23rd, we’ll host Kegs & Corks for Kids Cancer and take over the awesome responsibility of making Katie’s nurse Sarah proud. Join us at Vanish for the amazing things we have planned.

It is our greatest wish that you join us on these and all of our future adventures with Kate in your hearts and a cure on your minds.

From here….we keep on going. We keep on keeping on. We keep doing what we’re doing with your help and we keep trying to change the lives of children in Kate’s name. For them…because of her.

Happy birthday, my girl. I love you. I miss you. Best friends forever. I promise.

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